Milton’s on the Morning of Christ’s Nativity and the Tradition of English Poetry on This Theme

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This anthology of verse contains over sixty poems related to the birth of Christ by more than thirty poets from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in England. The tome offers a unique range of work by luminaries, including John Donne and Ben Jonson, to lesser known figures such as William Alabaster and George Wither.


“. . . a bouquet of poems from early modern England that celebrate the birth of Christ. . . . Hurley’s focus is on Milton’s Ode, however, and its placement here in juxtaposition to contemporary English poems on the same allows one to test (and perhaps to extend) the assertion by critics such as John Carey that the Ode’s “most potent stylistic influences are not Italian but Elizabethan.” - Dr. Timothy R. Vande Brake, Associate Professor of English, Roberts Wesleyan College

“ . . . Hurley’s book brings together in one place the most complete and diverse catalogue and commentary on nativity poems ever collected. [The author] traces the roots of the poems to the biblical narratives in Matthew and Luke, identifies the elements that bind together the diverse thematic and poetic elements of the genre, and analyzes several of the most distinctive poems of the nativity tradition. . .” – Dr. Wayne McCown, Vice President and Dean, Professor of Bible and Ministry, Northeastern Seminary

“Hurley considers how the meaning and artistry of Milton’s On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity and the collected nativity verses in English inform one another. Not surprisingly, Milton draws from and builds upon the tradition, but Hurley also notes ways in which the poet diverges from the earlier and contemporary works, reinterpreting elements of the genre.” – Dr. Elizabeth A. Whittingham, SUNY College at Brockport

Table of Contents

Foreword by Timothy R. Vande Brake
1 The Text of Milton’s On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity
2 A Brief Reading of On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity
3 The Texts of Other English Poems in the Nativity Tradition
4 Scriptural Roots of the Nativity Tradition
5 Unity in Diversity: Common Elements in Poems of the Nativity Tradition
6 Distinctive Poems of the Nativity Tradition
7 The Relationship between The Text of Milton’s On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity and Poems of the Nativity Tradition
8 Summary Remarks: On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity and the Nativity Tradition in England
Sources for the Poems
Biographies of the Poets
Selected Bibliography
Works Cited

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